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Gonzalez, Ross and Detwiler each finish second in NCAA finals

An emotional Jo Jo Gonzalez  of AIC celebrates after beating top seed Anthony Herrera of St. Cloud State to earn a spot in the NCAA Division II final at 157 pounds Sunday in Iowa. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki / SJanickiphoto.com)

Three wrestlers with state ties finished second at the NCAA Division II national championships in St. Louis and the NCAA Division III national championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday,

American International College’s Jo Jo Gonzalez, a senior from Willimantic, had a pair of one-point victories to earn a spot in the championship match at 157 pounds at the Division II nationals but lost to sophomore Josiah Rider of Adams State (Colorado) in the finals by pin.

Johnson & Wales’ Michael Ross (174) advanced to the Division III national final for the first time. But top-seed Cornell Beachem of Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati was too quick in a 5-1 victory over the Foran High-Milford graduate.

Coast Guard’s Paul Detwiler (184) became the first Bear to earn a spot in the D3 championship match since 2001 but No. 5 seed Jarrit Shinhoster of Wisconsin-Whitewater was too strong in a 12-6 decision.

Detwiler and teammate Coy Spooner, who was fifth at 197 pounds, helped Coast Guard finish 15th at the Division III meet – their best-ever finish as a team in a NCAA tournament event. The Bears were tied for 16th in 1974.

Two other Connecticut wrestlers earned All-American honors by finishing in the top eight of their respective weight classes.

At the NCAA Division III nationals, Berlin’s Nicholas Arborio (125) finished seventh at 125 pounds while Milford’s Ryan Luth of Washington & Lee took fourth place at 157 pounds.

AIC’s Jo Jo Gonzalez, right, trips up Anthony Herrera of St. Cloud State in Saturday’s semifinal at 157 pounds at the NCAA Division II national championship meet. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki / SJanickiPhoto.com)

Gonzalez (29-6) beat No. 5 seed Ty Lucas of Central Oklahoma on Friday night, 6-5, thanks to a takedown with 40 seconds remaining. In Saturday’s semifinal, Gonzalez beat No. 1 seed Anthony Herrera of St. Cloud State, 5-4 to secure a berth in his first title match.

Trailing by one after two periods, Gonzalez got a takedown with 1:12 remaining and turned Herrera to his back for a two-point near fall with 1:02 left for a 4-1 lead. Herrera got a reversal to cut the lead to one but Gonzalez, the No. 4 seed, escaped to take a 5-3 lead.

In the championship match, Rider got a takedown with 1:37 left for a 2-0 lead. Near the end of the first period, he squeezed Gonzalez and all of sudden, he had Gonzalez in a cradle and pinned him with 12 seconds left in the period.

Gonzalez earned NCAA All-American honors for the second time in his career. He was seventh a year ago at 165.

He was the first Connecticut wrestler to earn a spot in a NCAA Division II final since Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn won a title wrestling for Nebraska-Kearney in 2012.

Ross (37-1) lost his first match of the season in his match against Beauchem, who was too quick and tall to allow Ross to get in for a takedown.

Ross, who was seeded third, advanced to the finals with a 10-8 win over No. 2 Zane Mulder of Wartburg College in Iowa.

Ross took an 8-0 lead after one period thanks to a takedown, four-point near fall and a two-point near fall. Mulder rallied and tied the match at 8-8 thanks to two stalling penalties on Ross. But Ross had one point of riding time in his pocket and escaped with three seconds left to win, 10-8.

It was the second NCAA Division III All-American award for Ross, who finished eighth wrestling for Wartburg in 2018 at 165 pounds.

Detwiler (22-1) got an escape and takedown late in the second period to erase a two-point deficit and take a 3-2 lead in his semifinal match against No. 2 seed Kyle Briggs of Wartburg. In the third period, Detwiler got a takedown with 1:41 remaining to extend his lead to 5-2. He gave up a late point but moved onto the final.

In the championship match, Shinhoster (32-2) had five takedowns in his 12-6 victory. Detwiler was able to escape five times but couldn’t get in close for a takedown. Detwiler was the first Coast Guard wrestler to reach a D3 final since Chris Fertig did it in 2000 and 2001.

Detwiler finishes his magnificent career with a record of 77-9. He was a two-time NWCA All-American and earned his first NCAA All-American honor at the tournament.

Teammate Coy Spooner (197) dropped his first match of the season to No. 2 seed Jack Heidt of Wabash College in the semifinals, 6-5. Heidt took a 5-0 lead after two periods with two takedowns and a stalling penalty on Spooner.

Spooner rallied to tie the match at 5-5 with a takedown with one second remaining but Heidt had one point for riding time that gave him the win. Spooner, who won his quarterfinal match with a riding time point, beat Bentley Schwanebeck of Augsberg, 6-3, to finish fifth and earn his first All-American award.

Luth (32-3) completed the championship with a 3-2 overall record, placing fourth overall in the 157-pound bracket.  That represents the highest placing for a Washington and Lee wrestler since Hugo Bonino finished as the runner-up at heavyweight in 1936.

After going 2-1 in his matches on Friday, Luth won his first match on Saturday by posting an 11-7 decision over Luke Reicosky of John Carroll.  He advanced to the third-place match when David Hollingsworth of Wartburg, was a medical forfeit.

In the third-place match, Luth had a rematch with fifth-seeded Tyler Shilson of Augsburg.  Shilson had defeated Luth 16-0 in the quarterfinals.  This time, Luth opened with a takedown for a 2-0 lead, but fell by a score of 9-2.

Arborio (125) went 3-2 to earn All-American honors for Western New England University with his seventh place finish. He beat Tommy Russell of Milkin University, 6-3 to take seventh.

Granby’s Cooper Fleming of Castleton University went 2-2 at the NCAA Div III tournament at 174 pounds. His second win was a 5-3 win in overtime over Wesleyan’s Marco Gaita. Down by three in the second period, Fleming cut the lead to one with a second period reversal. He tied the bout with an escape with 1:53 remaining before winning it in OT.

2022 NCAA Division II national championships brackets and results (TrackWrestling.com)

2022 NCAA Division II national championship brackets and results (TrackWrestling.com)

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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